The Emmys have proven again that UK shows are winning hearts Stateside

PUBLISHED: 13:12 18 September 2018 | UPDATED: 13:27 18 September 2018

Claire Foy arrives at the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards on Monday, Sept. 17, 2018, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Claire Foy arrives at the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards on Monday, Sept. 17, 2018, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)


The American love affair with British TV and its stars shows no sign of abating after another batch of gongs were handed out to homegrown talent at the Emmys. But why do our friends across the pond love our drama so much?

Thandie Newton, winner of the award for outstanding supporting actress in a drama series for Thandie Newton, winner of the award for outstanding supporting actress in a drama series for "Westworld" poses in the press room at the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

British talent shone at the Emmys with a host of homegrown actors and productions scooping awards at the star-studded event, the most prestigious show in US television.

Welsh star Matthew Rhys won the lead actor in a drama series prize for his role in FX’s The Americans, while English actress Claire Foy scooped the equivalent award in the female category for her portrayal of the Queen in Netflix’s The Crown.

It was Foy’s final chance to win an Emmy for her role as the Queen before she hands over to Olivia Colman for season three and she appeared visibly emotional on stage. Foy’s co-star, Matt Smith, missed out on a supporting actor prize while Benedict Cumberbatch lost out to Rhys for lead actor.

London-born Thandie Newton won the supporting actress in a drama series for her part in HBO’s sci-fi western Westworld, fending off competition in a category packed with British stars, including Stranger Things’ Millie Bobby Brown, Game Of Thrones’ Lena Headey and The Crown’s Vanessa Kirby.

Matthew Rhys, winner of the award for outstanding lead actor in a drama series for Matthew Rhys, winner of the award for outstanding lead actor in a drama series for "The Americans", poses in the press room at the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

The brilliant Charlie Brooker won an Emmy for the USS Callister episode of Black Mirror and the amazing Phoebe Waller Bridge was nominated for an episode of Killing Eve, which began on BBC1 on Saturday night and is now available as a box set on BBC iPlayer.

The 70th Primetime Emmy Awards took place in Los Angeles and provided one of the most memorable moments in recent awards show history when a director popped the question during his acceptance speech.

Glenn Weiss won the outstanding directing for a variety special and told the audience the prize was “bittersweet” because his mother had died two weeks previously. He said his mother had “loved” his partner, Jan Svendsen, adding: “You wonder why I don’t like to call you my girlfriend? Because I want to call you my wife.”

Elsewhere, Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs Maisel won big, scooping five gongs in the comedy categories, for supporting actress, outstanding writing, directing, lead actress and outstanding series.

Hosts for the evening Michael Che and Colin Jost opened the ceremony with jokes about alleged sexual abuse in Hollywood, following allegations against high-profile figures such as Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey.

Che said it was an “honour to be here sharing this night with many, many talented and creative people in Hollywood”, adding: “Who have not yet been caught.”

Game Of Thrones - back at the Emmys after a one-year absence due to the timing of its previous season - won the prize for outstanding drama series.

HBO’s fantasy epic came out on top from a category including The Crown, Stranger Things, The Americans, This Is Us, Westworld and last year’s winner, The Handmaid’s Tale.

The Emmys have always had a soft spot for the British, particularly in the Best Limited Series category where in 14 out of the past 17 years, a British production has crept into the category with three winning the top spot since 2000.

Dramas which the Americans have lapped up include Horatio Hornblower (2001, 2004), Shackleton (2002), Prime Suspect 6 (2004), The Lost Prince (winner in 2005), Elizabeth I (winner in 2006), Bleak House (2006), Prime Suspect (2007), Cranford (2008), Little Dorrit (winner in 2009), Return to Cranford (2010), Downton Abbey (2011), Sherlock (2012), Luther (2012, 2014), The White Queen (2014), Wolf Hall (2015) and The Night Manager (2016).

Many credit the Harry Potter Effect for helping our cousins across the Pond grow a fondness for British drama – the boy wizard’s films sold more than £1.4 billion worth of tickets in America and ignited an interest in homegrown drama.

When the first episode of the fourth series of Downton Abbey became the highest-rated drama season premiere in the history of PBS network, it was swiftly followed by another huge ratings-winner, Sherlock.

The Americans, it seems, have fallen in love with what they perceive as British ‘quirkiness’, from the Victorian values of Downton where scandal meant an electric mixer in the kitchen to the distinct lack of welcome in the valleys for criminals in Sally Wainwright’s fantastic Happy Valley, starring straight-talking, hard-as-nails, unshockable Sergeant Catherine Cawood, played brilliantly by Sarah Lancashire.

The love for British productions, rather than American copies of - for example, The Office or The Thick of It - saw the end of Hollywood makeovers and the beginning of a new taste for homegrown accents and settings. Call the Midwife, Broadchurch, Doctor Who, Luther, Peaky Blinders, Merlin, Ripper Street, The Paradise and Last Tango in Halifax.

And of course, streaming services have more than played their part in a newfound love of British drama. Netflix, Amazon, Hulu - all have helped viewers access more drama across more platforms 24/7 and given British dramas viewing figures they would previously never dreamt of securing.

American TV critics put the success of British dramas across the pond down to character-driven shows with tightly-packed plots and realistic settings and also point to the British love of darkly comic wit and sarcasm. British crime dramas are particularly popular and help to bridge the Atlantic gap.

America is responsible for the greatest percentage of the British TV export market - Britain also has an impressive history of developing formats which click with viewers when it comes to non-scripted programmes, and the Americans have us to thank/blame for American Idol and Dancing with the Stars.

Other factual exports include Wife Swap, Undercover Boss, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Kitchen Nightmares, MasterChef and the Gogglebox equivalent, The People’s Couch.

But it seems it’s the drama which keeps drawing the audiences Stateside. We can only hope that just as we give, we can take - namely the room to let a good drama breathe, which the Americans are great at and we aren’t. Would HBO have allowed The Bodyguard to be just six episodes?

What the critics said:

Happy Valley: Variety said: “It’s rare, not to mention refreshing, to come across a female TV character who is not defined by her relationship with a man.”

Peaky Blinders: Empire said: “Peaky Blinders can comfortably count itself among the golden age of television, alongside the likes of The Wire, Boardwalk Empire and The Sopranos.”

Ripper Street: Hollywood Reporter said: “Ripper Street is riveting right from the start, with a great cast featuring Matthew Macfadyen (MI-5, Pride & Prejudice), Jerome Flynn (Game of Thrones) and Adam Rothenberg (Alcatraz), an American actor in what is likely to be his breakout role.”

The Fall: The Atlantic said: “The most feminist show on television”.

Broadchurch: Hollywood Reporter called it: “a textbook example of great writing, acting and economy of story”.


Drama Series:

Game of Thrones (WINNER)

The Crown

The Handmaid’s Tale

Stranger Things

The Americans

This Is Us


Lead Actor in a Drama Series:

Matthew Rhys, The Americans (WINNER)

Jason Bateman, Ozark

Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us

Ed Harris, Westworld

Milo Ventimiglia, This Is Us

Jeffrey Wright, Westworld

Lead Actress in a Drama Series:

Claire Foy, The Crown (WINNER)

Keri Russell, The Americans

Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black

Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid’s Tale

Sandra Oh, Killing Eve

Evan Rachel Wood, Westworld

Supporting Actor in a Drama Series:

Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones (WINNER)

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Game of Thrones

Joseph Fiennes, The Handmaid’s Tale

David Harbour, Stranger Things

Mandy Patinkin, Homeland

Matt Smith, The Crown

Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Thandie Newton, Westworld (WINNER)

Alexis Bledel, The Handmaid’s Tale

Millie Bobby Brown, Stranger Things

Ann Dowd, The Handmaid’s Tale

Lena Headey, Game of Thrones

Vanessa Kirby, The Crown

Yvonne Strahovski, The Handmaid’s Tale

Writing for a Drama Series:

“Start,” The Americans (WINNER)

Written by Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg

“Mystery Man,” The Crown

Written by Peter Morgan

“The Dragon and the Wolf,” Game of Thrones

Written by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss

“June,” The Handmaid’s Tale

Teleplay by Bruce Miller

“Nice Face,” Killing Eve

Written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge

“Chapter Nine: The Gate,” Stranger Things

Written by The Duffer Brothers

Directing for a Drama Series:

“Paterfamilias,” The Crown (WINNER)

Directed by Stephen Daldry

“Beyond the Wall,” Game of Thrones

Directed by Alan Taylor

“The Dragon and the Wolf,” Game of Thrones

Directed by Jeremy Podeswa

“After,” The Handmaid’s Tale

Directed by Kari Skogland

“The Toll,” Ozark

Directed by Jason Bateman

“Tonight We Improvise,” Ozark

Directed by Daniel Sackheim

“Chapter Nine: The Gate,” Stranger Things

Directed by The Duffer Brothers

Comedy Series:

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (WINNER)




Curb Your Enthusiasm


Silicon Valley

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Lead Actress in a Comedy Series:

Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (WINNER)

Pamela Adlon, Better Things

Allison Janney, Mom

Issa Rae, Insecure

Tracee Ellis Ross, Black-ish

Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie

Lead Actor in a Comedy Series:

Bill Hader, Barry (WINNER)

Anthony Anderson, Black-ish

Ted Danson, The Good Place

Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm

Donald Glover, Atlanta

William H. Macy, Shameless

Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series:

Henry Winkler, Barry (WINNER)

Louie Anderson, Baskets

Alec Baldwin, Saturday Night Live

Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Brian Tyree Henry, Atlanta

Tony Shalhoub, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Kenan Thompson, Saturday Night Live

Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series:

Alex Borstein, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (WINNER)

Zazie Beetz, Atlanta

Aidy Bryant, Saturday Night Live

Betty Gilpin, GLOW

Leslie Jones, Saturday Night Live

Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live

Laurie Metcalf, Roseanne

Megan Mullally, Will & Grace

Writing for a Comedy Series:

Pilot,” The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (WINNER)

Written by Amy Sherman-Palladino

“Alligator Man,” Atlanta

Written by Donald Glover

“Barbershop,” Atlanta

Written by Stefani Robinson

“Chapter One: Make Your Mark,” Barry

Written by Alec Berg and Bill Hader

“Chapter Seven: Loud, Fast and Keep Going,” Barry

Written by Liz Sarnoff

“Fifty-One Percent,” Silicon Valley

Written by Alec Berg

Directing for a Comedy Series:

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, “Pilot” (WINNER)

Directed by Amy Sherman-Palladino

Atlanta, “FUBU”

Directed by Donald Glover

Atlanta, “Teddy Perkins”

Directed by Hiro Murai

Barry, “Chapter One: Make Your Mark”

Directed by Bill Hader

The Big Bang Theory, “The Bow Tie Symmetry”

Directed by Mark Cendrowski (Read more about his original omission from this category here.)

GLOW, “Pilot”

Directed by Jesse Peretz

Silicon Valley, “Initial Coin Offering”

Directed by Mike Judge

Limited Series:

The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story (WINNER)

The Alienist

Genius: Picasso


Patrick Melrose

Lead Actress in a Limited Series or a Television Movie:

Regina King, Seven Seconds (WINNER)

Jessica Biel, The Sinner

Laura Dern, The Tale

Michelle Dockery, Godless

Edie Falco, Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders

Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Cult

Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Television Movie:

Darren Criss, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story (WINNER)

Antonio Banderas, Genius: Picasso

Benedict Cumberbatch, Patrick Melrose

Jeff Daniels, The Looming Tower

John Legend, Jesus Christ Superstar

Jesse Plemons, Black Mirror: USS Callister

Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or a Television Movie:

Merritt Wever, Godless (WINNER)

Sara Bareilles, Jesus Christ Superstar

Penelope Cruz, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story

Judith Light, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story

Adina Porter, American Horror Story: Cult

Letitia Wright, Black Museum (Black Mirror)

Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or a Television Movie:

Jeff Daniels, Godless (WINNER)

Brandon Victor Dixon, Jesus Christ Superstar

John Leguizamo, Waco

Ricky Martin, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story

Edgar Ramirez, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story

Michael Stuhlbarg, The Looming Tower

Finn Wittrock, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story

Writing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special:

USS Callister (Black Mirror) (WINNER)

Written by William Bridges and Charlie Brooker

“Clean Up,” American Vandal

Written by Kevin McManus and Matthew McManus

“House by the Lake,” The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story

Written by Tom Rob Smith


Written by Scott Frank

Patrick Melrose

Written by David Nicholls

Twin Peaks

Written by David Lynch and Mark Frost

Directing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special:

The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, “The Man Who Would Be Vogue” (WINNER)

Directed by Ryan Murphy


Directed by Scott Frank

Jesus Christ Superstar Live In Concert

Directed by David Leveaux

Live Television Directed by Alex Rudzinski

The Looming Tower, “9/11”

Directed by Craig Zisk


Directed by Barry Levinson

Patrick Melrose

Directed by Edward Berger

Twin Peaks

Directed by David Lynch

Reality or Competition Series:

RuPaul’s Drag Race (WINNER)

The Amazing Race

American Ninja Warrior

Project Runway

Top Chef

The Voice

Variety Sketch Series:

Saturday Night Live (WINNER)

At Home With Amy Sedaris

Drunk History

I Love You, America


Tracey Ullman’s Show

Variety Talk Series:

Last Week Tonight (WINNER)

Full Frontal With Samantha Bee

Jimmy Kimmel Live!

The Daily Show With Trevor Noah

The Late Late Show With James Corden

The Late Show With Stephen Colbert

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